Three scientists share 2017 Nobel Prize in chemistry

Journalists reading up on their chemistry ahead of the announcement

The cryo-electron microscopy method, developed with Joachim Frank, 77, of New York's Columbia University, and Jacques Dubochet, 75, of Switzerland's University of Lausanne, has implications for medicine shifting focus from organs to processes in cells.

Born in Scotland in 1945, Henderson did a BSc in physics at the University of Edinburgh before completing a PhD in molecular biology at the University of Cambridge, UK, in 1969.

That demonstration of what cryo-EM could achieve was "decisive for both the basic understanding of life's chemistry and for the development of pharmaceuticals", the committee said.

Their work has aided in research of Zika virus, which causes brain-damage in newborns, The Guardianreported.

"It has been used in visualising the way in which antibodies can work to stop viruses being risky, leading to new ideas for medicines - as just one example", he said.

The three were honored for developing "cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution", by the Nobel Foundation. The spatial relationships between the groups are then calculated, leading to the assembly of a high-resolution 3D image. The scientists helped develop new ways to study tiny cellular structures, proteins and viruses in fine detail.

After working on the problem for years, in 1990, Henderson captured the first 3-D image of a protein using an electron microscope.

"It is truly transformative allowing us to see new images of biomolecules - I am personally very happy for Richard who predicted this would be possible many years previously", added Dame Carol Robinson, Professor of Chemistry at the Physical and Theoretical Chemistry Laboratory, Oxford University.

75-year-old Jacques Dubochet, was born in Switzerland, and is now a honorary professor of biophysics the Universite Lausanne.

Dubochet added water to electron microscopy. Using this technique, researchers have been able to study the structure of a variety of biological molecules, from proteins involved in circadian rhythms to the Zika virus.

Ordinary electron microscopy makes biomolecules, which contain water, collapse.

He is the eighth Swiss national to win a Nobel Prize in chemistry. The benchmark for excellence in the domain of science is the Nobel Prize which is awarded for innovative ventures in Science and this time no exception.

"This was a key moment for the field-in the early 80s-and was a huge technical achievement", Neil Ranson, a professor of structural molecule biology at the University of Leeds, writes in an email to The Scientist.



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